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BA History / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
An Introduction to the Medieval World
|Unit level||Level 1|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
What was ‘middle’ – or even ‘medieval’ – about the ‘Middle Ages’? This module seeks to move beyond such a Eurocentric model, in which the period between c. 500 and c. 1500 was traditionally (and quite wrongly) viewed as lying fallow between the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the Roman Empire and the so-called ‘Rise of the West’. Instead, examining the development of Western Europe in comparative perspective alongside three comparative case studies – the Islamic world, Byzantium and China – this module will seek to revisit this dynamic period in which empires rose and fell, world religions took root and spread, and new models of trade and connectivity emerged. By c. 1300, when this module concludes, the world was beginning to look much more ‘modern’, and this was precisely because of – not in spite of – the changes experienced in this transformational period.
This module aims to provide students with an introduction to the Middle Ages and the various approaches that can be brought to bear on the period. It further aims to facilitate students’ engagement with current historiographical debates and likewise to provide them with the skills and techniques necessary for in-depth primary source analysis. By the end of this course, students should be able to think critically and comparatively about a range of issues including, but not limited to, freedom and unfreedom, ethnicity and identity, interactions between religious communities, patterns of exploitation and popular revolt, and trade and connectivities. They should be able to evaluate historical arguments and build their own interpretations through detailed source analysis.
Knowledge and understanding
By the end of this module, students should be able to:
- Understand the broad transformations that occurred in the period c. 300-1300
- Compare and contrast different regional trajectories
- Problematize the current periodization of the ‘medieval’ world
- Engage in detailed primary source analysis
- Critically evaluate secondary debates
- Engage with comparative and subaltern approaches to history
- seminar participation
- primary source analysis
- critical analysis of secondary historiography
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- written and oral communication
- participation in group discussion
- critical thinking
- - Analysis and synthesis of complex ideas - Effective use of evidence - Writing in clear, well-structured prose - Working autonomously and in groups
|Primary source analysis||40%|
Formative or Summative
Oral feedback on group discussions
Written feedback on coursework submissions
One-on-one oral feedback (during office hours or by making an appointment)
Feedback on online discussion boards (if in use)
Blockmans, Wim, and Hoppenbrouwers, Peter, Introduction to Medieval Europe, 300-1550 (London: Routledge, 2007).
Catlos, Brian, Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, c. 1050-1614 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
Cosmo, Nicola Di (ed.), Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity: Rome, China, Iran and the Steppe, ca. 250-750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).
Holmes, Catherine, and Standen, Naomi (eds), The Global Middle Ages, in Past & Present 238: supplement 13 (2018), available online at https://academic.oup.com/past/issue/238/suppl_13
Linehan, Peter, and Nelson, Janet, The Medieval World (London: Routledge, 2002).
McKitterick, Rosamond (ed.), The Early Middle Ages, 400-1000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
Murray, Alexander, Reason and Society in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978).
Wickham, Chris, Medieval Europe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016).
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Ingrid Rembold||Unit coordinator|
|Paul Oldfield||Unit coordinator|
|Charles Insley||Unit coordinator|